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Santa Clara Unified Stands With You

En Español

June 3, 2020

Dear Santa Clara Unified Community,

We write to you today from a place of sheer sadness and shared grief for the tragic death of George Floyd. We have seen evidence of so much pain in the responding protests and are troubled by the acts of violence across our nation. Even as we all continue to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, we must now help our young people cope, heal, and learn in the face of heightened tensions and added uncertainties.

We want our students, alumni, families, employees, and community partners to know that we stand with you during this national crisis, and we condemn the horrific murder of George Floyd. Mr. Floyd is only the most recent case in a national history marred with injustice and discrimination. While, certainly, there are many upstanding members of law enforcement in our country, implicit bias still exists and recent studies continue to show a disproportionate fatality rate of African American victims of lethal force by law enforcement at a rate of 2.8 times higher than caucasian victims (DeGue, Fowler, and Calkins 2016). We appreciate and support Santa Clara Police Chief Patrick Nikolai’s message yesterday reaffirming his department’s commitment to protect and serve all members of the community and to act with professionalism and integrity.   

Our actions need to go beyond celebrating diversity in our schools or simply adding equity to our strategic vision. Those actions are not enough to guarantee the safety of every one of our students and their families in our schools and communities. We must continue our conversations about race which include examining our practices and removing obstacles that contribute to systemic inequities, working to become aware of our own biases, understanding the historical roots of racial bias, and being active and intentional about changing injustice. 

Santa Clara Unified’s educational system — including our partners in higher education — serves as an anchor of opportunity and stability during troubled times. For thousands of students and their families, we provide a path out of poverty. We offer the antidote to ignorance, prejudice, and fear, which threaten America’s long-term health more than any virus.

As we have for the past 10 weeks of unprecedented school closures, we will continue to teach our students remotely, feed our families, provide internet access, and support students’ emotional wellbeing. We are keenly aware of the pernicious societal inequities that can make learning difficult even during the best of times. The death of George Floyd, and the disproportional effect of the coronavirus among minority populations, have laid bare many of these inequities.

We acknowledge this crisis as a painful reminder of how much more work needs to be done. At the same time, we double our resolve to continue serving as a beacon of learning, tolerance, and hope.

Below are some resources to engage in direct discussions on culture, race, and violence with children. Even our youngest children can learn about race and racism in ways appropriate for them.

Sincerely, 

Stella M. Kemp, Ed.D., Superintendent
Michele Ryan, Ph.D., President, Board of Trustees
Jodi Muirhead, Vice President, Board of Trustees
Mark Richardson, Clerk, Board of Trustees
Jim Canova, Member, Board of Trustees
Vickie Fairchild, Member, Board of Trustees
Albert Gonzalez, Member, Board of Trustees
Andrew Ratermann, Member, Board of Trustees

Resources: